Did you know that 40% of companies failed to meet their sales goals in 2021? No, not because they are bad at sales. Instead, this is due to sales becoming much more complicated year after year and creating new sales challenges that we have to overcome.
Longer sales cycles, higher competition, lack of control over the sales journey, and a deficiency of high-quality leads are among the current challenge “trends” that the sales industry is facing.
But from where we are standing, challenges are not dead ends; they are opportunities to rethink your sales approaches and come out stronger and better.
This article will go through common B2B sales challenges and what you can do to avoid or neutralize them.
1. The New Reality
The COVID-19 pandemic hit the world economy pretty hard: Companies had to restructure their B2B sales processes and reevaluate their purchasing aspirations.
Buying seemed to lose its priority, and the competition among sellers became even more severe. In fact, according to Pipedrive, only 6% of sales reps found it easier to sell during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Start with thinking about what your buyers are going through and how your services can enhance their business. Build trust and concentrate more on counseling rather than hard selling.
Also, if you haven’t adopted multichannel yet, this is the moment to do it. In fact, 94% of sales reps said an omnichannel strategy was equally or more effective with reaching and serving customers during the pandemic.
Furthermore, if your selling previously relied quite heavily on events, you can use our new guide that dissects event lead generation in modern times.
2. Standing out in a Crowd
According to our CRO Michael Maynes, cutting through all the noise in the modern sales environment is one of the toughest sales challenges we face nowadays, and the stats confirm this as well.
In 2021, 319.6 billion emails were sent and received per day, and that number grows as we speak.
Only 21.5% of sales emails will get opened, and if you think calling prospects is easier, hold the phone, because on average, it takes eighteen calls to connect with a buyer.
It’s hard to reach a prospect but even harder to make them stop, read, and respond.
The value you bring to the table is the greatest weapon in your arsenal. Use it to provide your prospects with high-quality content and a personalized experience.
Incorporate precise targeting and get rid of general messaging. Finally, remember that you do all of this to build meaningful relationships (that hopefully will last for a long time) with your potential customers.
3. Collecting High-Quality Data
A great sales rep can do everything right—send emails at the right time, make the most calls, and still end up without the appointment. This B2B sales problem occurs when you target the wrong prospects.
Why does this happen? Because some companies buy generated lead lists instead of investing in data-driven sales strategy. A mistake like this can cost you time and, most importantly, revenue.
Only 46% of sales representatives report having sufficient data insights about buyer intent. So, start with an ideal customer profile (ICP). A detailed profile that consists of the most significant buyer characteristics will give your sales reps a lot of insight into the buyers’ behavior.
But the ICP is just a start: You have to align your sales with marketing, define the information you want to collect, and find a way to store and update it effectively.
If collecting data in-house seems like too much work, outsourcing to a company that specializes in data solutions might be your best bet.
4. Long Buying Cycles
It’s well-known that B2B sales cycles are much longer than B2C, and it is one of the most classic sales issues. According to Statista, 57% of vendors claim that sales cycles have become longer as a consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This happens because of the multiple decision-makers that are involved in the buying process. Besides being hard to determine, they can spend months at one stage of your sales funnel. Moving them along the stages is crucial and quite complicated: You have to sell, yet you don’t want to push the buyer too much.
To move your prospects through the sales funnel, you have to nurture them hard. Give them value, respond to their needs, and create a feeling of a thoroughly personalized experience.
Plus, sometimes sales cycles become longer because you initially target the wrong person in the organization. Instead of always going for the decision-maker, you should pay attention to decision-influencers too.
5. Lack of Time
According to HubSpot, salespeople spend most of their time writing emails (21%), updating data (17%), doing research (17%), scheduling client calls (12%), and attending meetings (12%). That leaves salespeople only 34% of the time for actual selling, not to mention that you probably want to train your sales reps and develop their talents.
Choose the right CRM that can put most sales tasks on autopilot, have great scheduling features, and thorough data analytics.
You can also use the sales specialization principle, which will leave each of your workers responsible for a particular sales area.
6. Sales and Marketing Alignment
It happens a lot: Marketing doesn’t get enough qualified leads for sales, the sales team doesn’t follow up on the leads they do get, and just in general, these departments seem disconnected when really they should be working as one for the maximum effect.
According to LinkedIn, 87% of sales and marketing leaders say collaboration between sales and marketing enables critical business growth.
Knock out this B2B sales problem by creating and maintaining an open line of communication between the two departments and coming up with shared goals and objectives. It’s useful as well if your CRM is suitable both for sales and marketing.
7. Inability to Handle Objections
This B2B sales challenge appears when sales reps are not trained enough or provided with relevant materials to support them.
Some salespeople even find it hard to differentiate an objection from rejection. While the latter may sound like a strong “no,” 60% of customers say "no" four times before saying "yes." Yet 48% of salespeople never even make a single follow-up attempt.
This issue loses your precious sales, demotivates your workers, and may even lead to their burnout.
Dedicate some time to handling objections at the very beginning of the onboarding and training. Once your sales reps start to work with prospects, provide them with a list of the most common objections and how to handle them.
Defeating Sales Challenges
B2B sales challenges may feel like a tricky thing to deal with. However, hopefully, with our tips, they will become nothing but minor obstacles on your way to success. And to leave you on an even more positive note, this is what our CMO, Eric Quanstrom, thinks about challenges and sales and what we should do about them:
“The biggest challenge in sales, ironically, is buying and selling. Now in the buying process, we have the highest number of people involved, the largest access to information, and the biggest number of options on the market.
And, timing-wise, there has never been less clarity around future economic cycles ahead for any business. Every sale is affected by this, so we have no other option but to adapt and persevere.” —Eric Quanstrom, CMO at CIENCE